“Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more. Nothing less. A dance.”
~ Gabrielle Roth
I am a dancer and movement has been a part of my essence for as long as I can remember. I learned ballet and hula as a small child and danced for hours in the warm turquoise lagoon that was but yards away from my front door. As I grew older I practiced shadow dancing at night with a lamp, the ceiling and the movement of my arms. All in flow with the rhythm of the music, my movements were intuitive and glided with ease and grace. In college I studied Orissi, an ancient East Indian dance that had a strong focus on story telling by utilizing mudras and pudras or hand and feet silhouettes to translate sacred Hindu text into a visual story. I was simultaneous studying American Sign Language during that period of my life so I was steeped in the understanding of how much can be conveyed through small movements in the hands paired with different facial expressions. My favorite dances were the ones that told the stories of Ganesh. As a Hindu God with the head of an elephant, it was most fun to use my arms for the movements of his trunk and ears.
Upon graduating college from Evergreen in Olympia, Washington, I moved to the Big Island of Hawai’i. There I made a friend named Satya who introduced me to Ecstatic Dance that was held in a large shaded greenhouse with a giant wooded floor and I immediately fell in love with the five rhythms of healing dance ritual. The music always began soft and flowing increasing into a staccato before the chaos of fast beats that got the heart rate up and pounding grew in strength. The chaos blended into lyrical with a final gentle release moving towards stillness. The only rules were 1.) No shoes 2.) No talking while the music is playing (although yips and yells were permitted) 3.) Respect those around you and 4.)Dance like nobody’s watching. It was always on Sunday and I referred to it as “going to church.”
Ecstatic Dance is one of the most reliable life rafts I carry in my toolbox. When I was drowning in a postpartum depression after my son was born, I still went to church on Sundays and it gave me the boost I needed to endure another week. I rely on it still during my darker moments and it has yet to fail me as a source for grounding and finding my center.
Movement is part of who I am and a method I use to communicate with spirit. Dance is a prayer and a unique language that can convey any story born in imagination with artistic brush strokes of movement. I am the painter of my life’s story and I choose to dance through it.